EU ‘Strongly’ Condemns Russia’s Anti-Gay Censorship
The European Parliament on Tuesday adopted a resolution on the upcoming presidential election in Russia in which it clearly and “strongly” denounces Russia’s move to adopt laws banning the mention of homosexuality and gender identity under the guise of protecting children.
The resolution, presented by five political groups, stresses that the EU:
Strongly condemns the adoption by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg of a law against propaganda on sexual orientation; equally condemns similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions; calls on all Russian authorities to stop restricting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; calls on the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative to convey the European Union’s opposition to these laws;
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, is quoted as saying that Russia’s anti-gay censorship is unacceptable: “Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves. Such laws are simply unacceptable; if Russia isn’t serious about respecting the European Convention on Human Rights, it should simply call the bluff and leave the Council of Europe altogether. And more than statements, these grave human rights abuses must have consequences for the EU-Russia relationship.”
The St Petersburg law is designed to prevent the “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” to minors. The legislation includes a ban on gay positive messages in public and would serve to virtually ban gay pride events.
The law mandates a fine for contravening this law. For individuals there is a fine of 5,000 rubles ($170), and for officials 50,000 rubles ($1,725). The fine for legal entities has increased tenfold since the original version of the legislation, from 50,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($17,250).
The resolution also condemns Russia for abridgments of religious freedom and civil right to assembly. The resolution goes on to condemn Russia’s opposition to sanctions on Syria and also highlights Parliament’s “concern” over ”the barring of opposition candidates from standing in the presidential elections on 4 March 2012, which is once more undermining political competition and pluralism.”
The St. Petersburg Assembly approved the censorship bill at a second reading last Wednesday. It must now be approved a third time before it becomes law.